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7:00 eastern, including my colleague, wolf blitzer. that's it for me. thanks for being with me. i'm brooke baldwin. let's send things to washington to wolf blitzer. your "situation room" begins right now. happening now, we're counting down to the final face-off between president obama and mitt romney. it's debate night in america. also, i'll talk to a man who's actually debated both of these candidates before. senator john mccain. he's standing by to join us live this hour. and the state that could make or break either campaign. we have brand-new poll numbers from ohio. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." 15 days until the election and a critical night in the battle for the white house.
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this is the third and final presidential debate pitting mitt romney against president obama. we've just received these pictures of romney walking through the debate site in boca raton, florida. tonight's focus, foreign policy. and for both men, the stakes could hardly be higher. the tight race has gotten even tighter and tonight's contest could give either candidate the chance to pull ahead in these final critical days of this campaign. cnn's national political correspondent jim acosta is in boca rattan getting ready for the debate. what's the latest there? >> reporter: wolf, here in the debate spin room, democratic and republican operatives are predicting another feisty debate between president obama and mitt romney. a top romney campaign strategist tells cnn they are expecting another aggressive performance from the president. for mitt romney, debate night may be shaping up to be another fight night with president obama. while both men will be seated at a round table, a setting
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engineered for a more subdued discussion on foreign policy, the candidates will be sitting near one another. >> have you looked at your pension? >> i've got to say. >> mr. president, have you looked at your pension? >> reporter: if things get testy, romney and the president won't have to cross a stage to invade each other's personal space as they did at the last debate in new york. sources tell cnn romney's sparring partner, rob portman, has been trying to get under the gop nominee's skin in debate practice sessions to prepare him for what may be another fiery night. a senior romney adviser tells cnn, the campaign expects the president won't come out like a lamb. >> i realize that maybe looked more symbolic than it is. >> reporter: among the night's flashpoints, an article in "the new york times" stating the u.s. and iran may be in direct talks about that nation's nuclear program. a reporter tried to ask romney about the story before a flag football game between his staff and traveling press corps.
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>> as president, would you be open to one-on-one talks with iran? >> reporter: romney may also try to press the president on a u.s. consulate attack in libya, as he did at the last debate. >> i want to make sure we get that for the record. it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi an act of terror. >> get the transcript. >> reporter: after that moment did not go as planned for romney, he dropped that line of attack from his stump speech. >> the obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign. >> this is the moment when the rise of the oceans begin to flow and our planet began to heal. >> reporter: the romney campaign released a web video teasing his comments to russian president dmitry medvedev. >> this is my last election. >> reporter: but the obama campaign says it's ready for that, noting one what romney told cnn earlier this year --
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>> this is without question our number one geopolitical foe. >> reporter: now, as for the president's -- perhaps his best talking point for tonight's foreign policy discussion, being the killing of osama bin laden, i talked to a top romney surrogate here in the spin room a short while ago. arizona senator john mccain, i asked him whether or not the former massachusetts governor should give the president credit for taking out bin laden. he said yes. but then he said the president should also take responsibility for what he called abject failure across the middle east. >> you've also spend some time with the young man who is described as the body man for mitt romney. he spends all day with mitt romney getting him ready for various events. tell tell us a little bit about it. i know you have a special report coming up later on here in "the situation room." >> reporter: that's right. we'll take you behind the scenes with the man who is perhaps best behind the scenes with mitt romney. he is mitt romney's personal assistant and body man, known as mitt's body man on twitter. his name is garrett jackson.
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he's constantly snapping photos of the former massachusetts governor behind the scenes and tweeting them out to his many followers. earlier today, as you noted, wolf, garrett jackson was able to take a pretty good picture of he and mitt romney at that debate roundtable. earlier this afternoon, another picture for the scrapbook for garrett jackson. but also a revealing look at a very unique role that he has with this campaign. we'll be talking about that later on this evening. >> looking forward to that report. thank you, jim. let's get the obama pregame under way right now. our chief white house correspondent, jessica yellin is also in boca raton for us. the campaign released a new ad today. what does it tell us about the president's latest strategy? >> reporter: wolf, it tells us in part we can expect the president to tout his promises kept on foreign policy, withdrawing from iraq, beginning a timetable to withdraw from afghanistan. but there's also something else. take a look at this. >> a clear choice.
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president obama ended the iraq war. mitt romney would have left 30,000 troops there and called bringing them home tragic. >> reporter: goes on to make the same case about drawing troops home from afghanistan and asks whether romney fully supports bringing troops home there. part of the strategy for the president is to argue that governor romney does not have a policy on iraq and afghanistan, even arguably in iran or syria that's any different from the president's and we can look for the president to ask what the governor would do differently if anything is it endless war? does the governor propose bringing the u.s. into wars in new areas or keeping us in other zones with no end date on the table, wolf? >> jessica, how are the obama folks feeling about tonight's debate? >> reporter: well, you know, they like to joke that when they told us that they had low expectations for his first
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debate, they weren't kidding because this is not his strong suit, debating. but of all topics, they feel this is his most comfortable area because he has been commander in chief. it's bean area he feels well-versed. he plans to draw contrasts to try to prove the commander in chief test and argue that governor romney doesn't need it. here's one of his top foreign policy advisers i spoke with over the weekend, wolf. >> does governor romney, the challenger, pass the commander in chief test? they know what kind of commander in chief president obama is. he's kept them safe. he has gone after al qaeda an gotten bin laden. he's brought the troops home from iraq. he led an incredibly successful intervention in libya. >> reporter: now, wolf, a little bit of detail about the president's day, he woke up day
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and did a little bit of prep with his advisers at camp david before flying here. senator kerry who was playing governor romney got a round of applause for his work there, i'm told. now they've flown here and the president gets a little downtime. then he'll have a steak and potatoes dinner with the first lady. that's what he did before that last successful debate. >> they don't want to make any changes on the food. that could be important. john kerry will join us live in our next hour. john mccain will join us live this hour. let's dig deeper with our chief political analyst, gloria borger. tonight, the third and final presidential debate for each of these two candidates. how important is this -- >> hugely, hugely important. this is going to be the last time before people vote that they're going to see these two candidates on the same stage together. and what they expect tonight is sort of a global vision from each of these candidates. as jessica was saying earlier, the advantage has to go to the president.
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if you look at the polls, wolf, the president is up by about eight points or so on the latest nbc/"wall street journal" poll. when it comes to who's better able to handle foreign policy. but that's about half of what it was this summer. so there are clearly opportunities here for mitt romney, particularly on the issue of libya, particularly, for example, on china, which he intends to turn back to the economy. >> viewers are going to be looking at other things, not just the nuances of substantive foreign policy issues. >> they are. what i think you'll look for in this debate, people are going to look for a leader. if you look at the polls again, nbc/"wall street journal" poll, which candidate has the strong leadership qualities needed to be president, you see it is an absolute tie. what they are looking for is somebody who's a strong leader, somebody they can trust, because after all, you have to trust somebody you're going to vote for to be your commander in chief. and the president has a slight advantage on commander in chief, three to four points.
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but still, mitt romney just wants to make sure that it either stay that is way or he can inch it up one or two rungs. >> in the second debate, they were both very, very aggressive. >> yes, they were. >> do we expect the same kind of aggressiveness to be displayed tonight? >> my sources in the romney campaign tell me probably not. there won't be as much rat a tat tat as there was. every time somebody jabs somebody else, neither candidate looks good as you can see from this picture here. so a little bit less of that. i also think in talking to a republican strategist who is affiliated with the romney campaign, he said the one thing you have to be careful about is that you don't want mitt romney to seem as if he wants to go to war. as jessica yellin was just pointing out, that's what the obama people are going to say. they believe romney has to step back from that, not seem so bellicose and try to cut off that discussion.
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when he talks about leading afghanistan up to the generals on the ground, there is some sense the american public will see that as saying, you know what, we're going to re-evaluate and maybe we're going to stay in afghanistan. and by the way, the republican base doesn't want to stay in afghanistan. the american public doesn't want to stay in afghanistan. and neither do women voters. >> we'll be watching all of this unfold tonight together with you. gloria, thanks very much. we have much-ahead as our special coverage leading up to the final debate night in america continues. our special coverage also under way 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. is ohio president obama's firewall against mitt romney? we have some new poll numbers from that crucial battleground state.
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what's your policy? vice president joe biden started a three-day campaign swing through ohio today. president obama will be in the same state tomorrow for a rare joint appearance with his running mate. that tells you how important ohio is to the president's reelection campaign. let's bring in john king who is just back from ohio. it's trite but it's ohio, ohio, ohio. >> it is. we have nine toss-up states. you could make the argument that ohio is the most important. why? no republican's ever been elected without winning it. and since 1964, the winner of ohio has won the presidency. new poll numbers show us this is a big battleground state. this is our poll of polls in ohio. advantage for the president, 48-45. but that's down from heading into the first debate. the debate season has been good for mitt romney in ohio. however, the president continues to keep a small but stubborn
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lead in the state of ohio. the two most recent polls we've factor into the that average are these two. a cbs/quinnipiac university poll has the president up 50-47. but another shows a dead het, 47-47. what's driving it? let's take a look. it's a classic swing of the genders. in the state of ohio, among women, 53% for the president, 41% for governor romney. among men, the flip side. a big gender gap that works both way, women to the president's advantage, men to governor romney's advantage. one of the reasons i was in ohio was to take a look at the early voting. in the quinnipiac/cbs poll, they asked people who have voted early, whou did you vote? the president with an edge, 54% to 39%. the president wants to be ahead in the early voting. but these numbers are actually
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better for the republicans than they were four years ago. on the ground in ohio, republicans think we'd like to be a little closer in the early voting but they have a lot more energy than they had four years ago. heading into the final stretch of it, these numbers are actually, even though you might say benefit obama, the republicans think that's within our plan. we think we can still win ohio if that's the ballpark of early voting. >> most of the experts out there say that the republicans -- that romney desperately needs ohio. if he doesn't win ohio, he could kiss off this election. on the other hand, if the president loses ohio, there are other ways for him to get to that magic number of 270 electoral college votes. is that analysis pretty much accurate? >> yes, it is. it's a very critical state. right now, you have that slight lead for the president. governor romney's team would say it's a tie. final two weeks, 237 electoral votes either solid or leading the president's way. 191 solid or leading governor romney's way. that tells you simple math, no
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one has an easy path to 270. but the president has an easier path. if you take ohio and factor in other polls in the midwest, this part of the country is going to be critical. we had polling last week that showed the president with a lead in ohio. the romney campaign hasn't given up. but for the sake of the argument, let's say the president with keep that lead there. president leading in wisconsin. the romney campaign says it will fight to the end. if those two polls which had bigger leads than most other battleground states are dead heats. these two had bigger leads for the president. if those hold, look at this, those two states would get the president to 253. if he wins ohio, he's over the top. you could make the argument, the president just camp out in the midwest. if he wins these three states, he win the election. if governor romney wins it, the president would still have more options to get there. the state of florida is a huge factor. it's the biggest battleground left on the map. if we say advantage romney here,
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most people think advantage romney in north carolina. but this is the big one in ohio, if the president could take this away from governor romney -- if the president wins these states here f he wins wisconsin and he wins iowa and he wins ohio, he's over the top. the only way for romney to do it would not only to be able to sweep the rest of the battlegrounds but to take something back, get pennsylvania or michigan out of the president's column. you could make the case for the president, camp out right there in the midwest. >> but if romney does win ohio, let's say he wins florida and virginia, he's well on his way to winning this election. >> i'm going to put these back in toss-ups. 3, 2, 1, the three states that were most republican that obama carried, indiana, north carolina and virginia. if romney wins those and florida, he's at 248. then the question is, can he win ohio? if he wins ohio as well in that argument, he would be at 266. any one of the remaining states would get romney over the top. for romney, florida, ohio, virginia, north carolina. for the president who has a closer path, if he could do
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iowa, wisconsin, ohio, game over. >> we'll see what's going on. and maybe we'll talk about this down the road if there's a 269/269 tie, then what? worth pondering. >> house of representatives, lawyers. >> a lot of lawyers. thank you. only one person's stood at a presidential debate and gone head to head with both mitt romney and president obama. that one person being senator john mccain. he's standing by to join us live this hour. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] its lightweight construction makes it nimble... ♪
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decisive situation today. lisa sylvester is here monitoring the top stories in "the situation room" right now. >> psyching's international governing body stripped lance armstrong of his seven tour de france titles and banned him for life from the sport. the decision comes after the u.s. anti-doping agency accused the cycling star of systematic drug use, something he's denied. armstrong is now being asked to give back nearly $4 million from his tour winnings as his name gets wiped from the record books. and cuba is trying to quell renewed speculation over fidel castro's health and reports that the former leader might be close to death. stays-run media ran an article in castro's name that scoffs at the rumors and shows these photos of him reading the paper and walking in a garden.
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castro is 86 years old and has not been seen in public since march when the pope visited cuba. the candidates are making final pitches. the white house says president obama will sit down with jay leno on "the tonight show" this wednesday. it will be his third appearance as president. last week, he talked foreign policy with jon stewart and ann romney visited with the the tonight show" last month, of course she was without her husband. >> trying to get votes. >> this is the final stretch and certainly the final push. >> lisa, thank you. our panelists are standing by. they have a heads-up about one particular debate technique both candidates may use tonight. anncr: every president inherits challenges.
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few have faced so many.
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>> reporter: i call it the pivot. this is a debate about foreign policy, right? but we all know the top issue on the minds of american voters remains the economy. >> there's a direct tie between our economic strength, our military strength and our position in the world. >> the economy's getting better. that helps president obama. but governor romney has a lot of momentum in a lot of states. >> this is about the economy, the economy, the economy. but he has to show people that he has the gravitas and the temperament to be commander in chief. >> let's get to our cnn political contributor, margaret. >> here we are with our panel. we're talking about the pivot, that technique. how is mitt romney going to pivot tonight? >> before i talk about pivot, i want to talk about tone. i think john king was right when he said temperament is important here. and ainge romney's tone has been very productive the last couple of debates. he's firm but not nasty.
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i think he gets his points across, but i think the most important pivot that governor romney can make is to remind voters that a strong foreign policy depends on a strong economy. we cannot have a strong military and a strong presence in the world unless our economy is firing on all cylinders which is manifestly not doing. >> did you ever a debate when you were running for the senate -- >> yes, i did. >> well, they were standing in front of a podium in front of six questioners. they don't do that -- >> i think that format is very tricky. it's not as easy to fight with somebody sitting around the table with you. >> but biden and paul ryan figured out a way to do it. it can be done. pivoting to the economy is going to be important. if i am obama, i want to pivot to george w. bush. basically from my point of view, i would be straight remind people, you've got sketchy
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economic plans and also sketchy overseas plans. you've seen romney -- he's come across very bellicose on the stage, on the stump, he's out there. seems like that shoot first, ask questions later policy -- the pivot is to make sure that people remember what -- >> i think that's one of the biggest mistake that is president obama could make. i think most voter, like me, are sick of all of this blame against george w. bush. >> i don't mean it -- >> you don't pivot to george w. bush to commend him on -- >> not saying that. let me clarify. the reason i say this is because -- i'm not saying he did bad stuff in the past. but there is a way of reasoning that is familiar to me. when i listen to romney reason, where it seems like he's trying to puff himself up and throw this sort of rhetoric out there -- >> i think it's a slippery slope. he was the boogie monster, george w. bush was, four years ago. four years have since passed.
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president obama is the president. take that responsibility. >> for the president to accomplish about the man sitting across the table from him tonight -- i think the president really needs to just take a step back and get back to the basics and remind the american people about the top lines of the character of his opponent. we're talking about easy talking points. he can say he's a wall street billionaire who's done everything in his power to not contribute to the country he's asking to lead. we haven't talked enough about the foreign policy of tax shelters, the cayman islands, swiss bank accounts. that starts to reveal who romney is. >> is an incumbent on president obama to make the case for his own foreign policy rather than to the negatives of mitt romney -- >> absolutely. you start with the fact that he was able to do sort of -- heal the wound that this country had of having their leader, the architect of 9/11 be running free. and something george w. bush was unable to do. of course he's going to make
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that point. he's going to talk about how he's leading on israel and palestini palestine, something that mitt romney said in closed door that is he didn't think could happen, we should kick the can down the road. he can start about the stark treaty with russia and the ways that -- some could say that president obama's been able to accomplish more and been a visionary -- >> i think your advice to president obama to be revealing of romney's character, as you put it, is actually what president obama has been doing on the stump. and i think it's revealing of president obama's character, not president romney's. i think president obama has yet to lay out a compelling case for a second term. why does he want to be president for another four years? what he continues to talk about instead is to bash the character of romney. i'm not surprised, but frankly i'm shocked. if the president of the united states would call romney a wall
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street raper, basically, when he's clearly -- he's been raping the middle class, he's been doing all these terrible things because he's healthy? that's character assassination. and i think it's beneath a president of the united states. >> how about undecided voters, these elusive undecided voters? they're going to make the difference. what do undecided voters need to hear? i don't think they're going to make their decision on foreign policy. >> the one thing we haven't heard from either candidate yet and it's going to be what makes undecideds decided is vision. both can do a better job articulating a vision for the next four years. we need to have a big vision for america. >> the vision -- we haven't seen -- there was a promise that romney could have provided this shift from the republican vision for the economy and foreign policy that's been of the past eight years and certainly of the past 20, 30 years. you would think maybe the so-called moderate from massachusetts might have been able to articulate something
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that really broke from his party. and we just haven't seen it on regulation, on taxes, on foreign policy, on the sort of chest-thumping around iran. we haven't seen him be able to say, i'm a new kind of republican and this is what i've got for the country. >> what's interesting to me is the big framework here is you have obama moving us in the direction of peace and prosperity. romney would go for more war and austerity. >> that's crazy. >> it rhymes. >> here's what's interesting. the economy is starting to do better. gas prices are coming down. unemployment is coming down. confidence is starting to go up. same thing overseas. iran is now coming to the table. crippling sanctions on iran. here's the thing -- >> after 3 1/2 years. >> we've been in afghanistan for almost ten. look at what's happening with iran. only three things you can do in iran. either be this war chest-thumping person, which is
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reckless, or try to go it alone, which is weak, or get the world on your side. >> you think it's beneficial for the mullahs to believe you're actually use force? >> you don't want to go it alone. >> there are very immediate questions that require answers that should come up tonight. one is we need to do an effective case on benghazi. i don't think romney did an effective case and he needs to fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee on it today. i think we need answers on mr. obama, what did you mean when you told the russian president that you would have more flexibility? we're about to have that second election now and we're talking about one-on-one talks with iran maybe leaking, i don't know. what does that further flexibility mean? i know a lot of americans who are very worried about that point. >> i'm going to give carley the last word.
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>> the economy is the most important topic. personal lives are what consume people daily. but i think what americans are concerned about is their place in the world. there is a sense of unease about the role we play in the world. >> agree with you there. >> i think it's an important debate, an important night. >> keep it right there. don't change your channel. we'll be back in just a minute with more unsolicited advice from this panel. stay tuned.
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here we are. welcome back to "unsolicited advice." we're here with our panel.
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what is your piece of unsolicited advice today? >> it's to whoopi goldberg. i love whoopi goldberg. but whoopee goldberg conducted a, i thought quite bizarre conversation with ann romney the other day on the subject of the troops. her question was both ignorant and hypocrite call. it was ignorant because he was apparently under the belief that mormons can't serve in the military. and it was hypocritical because her premise was because mitt romney hasn't served in the military, therefore he can't support our troops. i say that because neither bill clinton nor barack obama served in the military. and i don't recall her having that concern. so i guess my advice to whoopi goldberg would be, check your prejudices at the door. i thought that was an awkward exchange. >> whoopi tends to be pretty open-minded, too.
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she tends to get outside the box and not to go -- >> to be fair, usually when interviewers are doing that, that's something that's on people's mind. mitt romney's been questioned about it before, how are your many sons serving the country? he said, they're serving the country by trying to get me elected. that is a question that's on people's mind and usually we'd say that's giving him a chance -- giving ann romney a chance -- >> who else? >> it isn't how she asked it. she asked it with reference to his mormon faith, which i think was unfortunate. it's a totally legitimate question to say, talk us to about how you'll support our troops and how you feel about this? that's a totally legitimate question. >> if mitt romney is elected, he'll be the first mormon. so the american public is learning about mormonism. >> and part of it is the service includes going overseas and missionary efforts -- >> i earnestly hope that that was her motivation. if so, then i sincerely apologize in advance. but i think it was an awkward line of questioning.
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>> we're going to van. what is your piece of unsolicited advice? >> mine is for the moderator. we already talked about libya now in two debates. we've talked about it -- >> as a democrat, you don't want to continue -- >> you know, i think -- >> bingo. >> frankly, if we want to talk about libya, this president has helped to bring about a huge democratic change in libya. i don't think he has to run on the record in libya. it's unfortunate we keep politicizing the death of an american hero. that's not my advice. my advice is the last part of the debate, please ask questions that might be relevant beyond the talking points. there's a global youth bulge happening all around the world. and there's not jobs for half of the world's young people. >> population explosion. >> these people hit the global job market, what are we going to do about that? there's the climate change issue out there. we may have to redraw the world's maps.
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that's going to create incredible conflict. can we please talk about some of the issues that are actually likely to impact the next 10, 20 years in america and not just go with today's talking points? >> the youth unemployment issue, which i completely agree with you on that, in my opinion, is the real cause of the arab spring. when there's 50% unemployment, whether it's in baltimore or benghazi, people eventually are going to take out their frustrations. i think that's a terrible problem. >> and young people can either be constructive or destructive, depending on how the leaderships, how the adults relate to their situation. and when young people are being essentially abandoned and ignored on the world stage and sometimes here in america, we're setting ourselves up for bigger problems. >> we have two minutes, ana navarro and heather go each a minute. >> i actually got the memorandum saying this was a foreign policy debate and there are a lot of foreign policy issues to discuss, whether israel, benghazi, libya, syria. there's a lot of things i hope we do focus on foreign policy
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because we have not enough. and it's a big part of the job description of the president. and in that, my advice is to governor romney, president obama and bob schieffer, i hope they discuss latin america. every four years, i get somebody campaigning telling me about what they're going to do with latin america and for four years, latin america gets neglected. we have got horrible things happening across the border in mexico. there is a lot of alliances being built by ahmadinejad in latin america with hugo chavez. we need to focus on our back yard and pay it some attention for real. >> that's a good point. especially with chavez's latest victory. >> my piece of advice is for our nation's biggest employer. and that's walmart that has had a really rough year. you start with the cover-ups of the bribing in mexico, obviously the ongoing sex discrimination class action. now you've got for the first time in its history strikes all
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across the country. the warehouse workers, terrible abuse conditions and we're moving into the holiday shopping season. my advice to walmart would be to say, okay, we're the most profitable employer, we are the most profitable corporation, we could actually raise wages and this would be great for america. it would be a flag-waving moment. it's totally within walmart's power to do that. they could do that. >> that's great. thanks so much for joining us for unslus sited advice today. wolf, back to you. >> margaret, thanks very much. over the courseof the last presidential campaign, john mccain debated both mitt romney and barack obama. based on that unique experience, what's he looking for tonight? the senator standing by to join us live. that's next. he people of bp made a commitment to the gulf. and every day since, we've worked hard to keep it. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars
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senator john mccain certainly has a unique perspective on tonight's debate. nobody else has taken part in presidential debates against both mitt romney and barack obama. happened four years ago when he was the republican presidential nominee. senator mccain is joining us now from the debate site in boca raton, florida. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> i want to talk about your unique perspective on debating these two individuals later. let's go through some issues, beginning with libya right now. "the wall street journal" is reporting that the president's daily intelligence brief for a week after the 9/11 attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi for a week was suggesting this was a spontaneous protest that
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resulted in the death of these four americans. it looks -- if that's true, that looks like a major intelligence blunder. but what do you say? >> well, i'd say we should then question everything we hear from the intelligence community. that's gross incompetence. but also the president had other sources of information. wolf, i had open information -- all of us did, who have any knowledge whatsoever that this was not a spontaneous demonstration that was triggered by a video. there was no demonstration. you don't have to have an intelligence estimate to know that. they had realtime video from the site itself in a drone overhead. it's ridiculous and outrageous to blame it on intelligence sources when facts are obvious before your very eyes. so it's ridiculous. it's an attempt to put the blame -- first they threw hillary under the bus. now i guess they're going to throw the cia under the bus.
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but the president is the one responsible. and he told people in the world and in this country that it was a spontaneous demonstration and they kept talking about the hateful video when it was not true. >> because as far as the u.s. ambassador, susan rice, is concerned, the briefings that she received, the guidance from the intelligence community apparently was what she said on those five sunday morning television shows that day. so the question, i guess, to you is, is she to blame for trusting the intelligence community, the cia, the national intelligence center or whatever, or is the intelligence community to blame for giving her bad information? >> oh, i think it's probably a combination of the two, common sense, as i said before, common sense -- i was on one of the sunday shows, unfortunately not cnn at the time, or one of the sunday shows. and the president of the libyan national conference came on immediately after her and said this was an al qaeda attack. he knew it. we knew it.
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we knew that you don't take mortars to spontaneous demonstrations. you don't do that. it was -- i don't know whether to laugh or cry. i don't know whether they were willfully deceiving the american people or whether it was incompetence to the degree that i've never seen the likes of which. >> i know you have great admiration for general petraeus, the director of the cia. but if the cia was providing bad information, i assume you'd want to know about that. >> oh, yeah, i would. but it's a debacle. and the president is the one who's responsible for -- in april and in june, there was attacks on our consulate. the british closed their embassy, the international red cross closed theirs. there was an attack on the british ambassador. the last message we got from chris stevens was his concern about security at the consulate. i don't expect the president to know when 16 people are moved in or out or something like that.
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but i certainly expect him to know in his daily intelligence brief that things were deteriorating in benghazi to a terrible degree. and then, of course, when it happened, we saw all this business of spontaneous demonstrations, which anyone with any knowledge knew -- by the way, the cia station chief in benghazi's first message back was that this was a terrorist attack and we all knew and they knew that there was an al qaeda-affiliated organization there. this is really an unacceptable screw-up and obviously the president should have known better. >> let's talk about the debate tonight because you're unique in this regard. you've debated both mitt romney when he was seeking the republican nomination, you won. you debated the president when you were the republican nominee. he won that. i'm going to play a couple of clips of you debating both of these individuals four years ago. >> my hero is a guy named tedly
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roosevelt. teddy roosevelt used to say, talk softly but carry a big stick. senator obama likes to talk loudly. >> senator mccain, this is the guy who's saying, bomb, bomb, bomb iran. who called for the annihilation of north korea. that, i don't think, is an example of speaking softly. >> timetables was the buzz word for withdrawals -- >> why do you insist on not using the actual quote. >> the actual quote is, we don't want them to lay in the weeds until we leave. that is the actual quote. >> what does that mean? >> so, senator, who's the better debater, from your perspective? i know you're not an honest guy. you'll tell us what you really think. >> i think they're both excellent. i think the president has a great deal of charisma and likability on the part of the american people. i think the we saw in the first debate that maybe he'd dulled a little bit after four years.
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and mitt, obviously, had to sharpen his skills going through those rather unpleasant debates that he went through. so i think they're both going to be excellent tonight. i think it was pretty much a stand-off the second debate. so i think they're both excellent. >> i know you'll be watching. have you given governor romney any advice? >> could i say both better than me? i think that one of the things that mitt will do tonight is to tell the american people, we believe in peace through strength. we think that that's the best way to avoid conflicts, not to allow president obama to paint him as some guy who's going to be hair trigger, that's going to get us into a conflict. he understands the limits of american power as well as the possibilities of american power. and i think that's the major message that he needs to get across tonight. >> senator mccain, thanks for
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joining us. >> thanks, wolf. another presidential debate veteran standing by to join us live as well, senator john kerry has been working with president obama. we're going to ask him whether the u.s. should be talking one-on-one with iran. longest lasting, full-size pickups on the road. so, what do you think? [ engine revs ] i'll take it. [ male announcer ] it's chevy truck month. now during chevy truck month, get 0% apr financing for 60 months or trade up to get the 2012 chevy silverado all-star edition with a total value of $8,000. hurry in before they're all gone! in that time there've been some good days. and some difficult ones. but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you?
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and in a neck-and-neck race, could president obama win the popular vote yet still win the electoral college vote? john king will show us the map. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." it's debate night in america. cnn's live coverage begins two hours from now. mitt romney and president obama have certainly split the first two encounters. with polls showing a neck-and-neck race right now, tonight's foreign policy face-off could be crucial. that's a strong point for president obama. but governor romney may be closing the gap in that critically important area. romney's made his final walkthrough in boca raton, florida. dana bash is on the scene for
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us. dana is joining us right now. what's the latest, dana? what's going through this process of the hours just before this debate? >> reporter: one of the main questions is how mitt romney is going to present himself as commander in chief given the fact he's a former governor with no experience in foreign policy as all. he's going to try to say his resume as a ceo has prepared him to be a commander in chief, that the skill set that one has to be a successful businessman is similar to that that allows somebody to be successful on the world stage. i spoke with dan senor, one of romney's policy advisers and one of the people that's been inside the debate prep day in and day out. here's what he said about this issue. >> in governor romney, you have someone who's been a chief executive of a state, who's dealt with turnaround, turning around complicated situations throughout his career, both in
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the united states and around the world, whether it was failed companies, whether it was a failing olympics in salt lake city. so this is someone who's decisive, who has a strong world view and has a history of being able to successfully turn around really messy situations and really messy, complicated organizations. >> reporter: you're saying there might not be that much of a difference between what he did at bain capital and what he could do in the middle east? >> i think that chief executives tend to be able to manage really complicated organizations and really complicated problems. and he's dealt with that throughout his career. >> reporter: the other thing we're told governor romney is going to try to do tonight is connect the topic of the debate, foreign policy, to the issue that voters care most about and the issue that's mostly in his wheelhouse, and that is the economy. that he is going to say that they are all connected and that the fact that the u.s. economy has been in such bad shape has hindered the united states on the world stage in more ways than one.
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>> what about his strategy as far as his style tonight, dana, is concerned? he was pretty scrappy, in the president's face last week. what about tonight? >> reporter: we're told that inside debate prep, they have been working very hard with him to tone it down because the point tonight, if he executes it the way they practiced it, is for him to come across to voters as somebody that they can relate to as commander in chief. the words that advisers have used to describe what they hope he comes across as is sober, steady, someone with a calm demeanor. the question, though, wolf is whether or not he can really pull that off and avoid taking the bait because one of the weaknesses that mitt romney has had in the past and people who have worked with him admit this freely is that he does tend to get defensive and take the bait when his opponent goes after him in a somewhat personal way so that is going to be the challenge for him tonight if he
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does want to come across as very different from last week, is to not take the bait. >> i'll be watching it very closely just like you and all of how vurers. dana, thank you. coming up, i'll be joined by john kerry. he was the democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, played a key role in president obama's debate preparations. he's actually played mitt romney in those debate preparations for the president. that interview coming up. the debate takes on added importance in a very, very tight race. look at this. there are five new national surveys out in the past day or so adding them up, our poll of polls shows a dead heat. 47% of likely voters favor president obama. 47% favor mitt romney. joining us now is the moderator of last week's debate, our chief political correspondent, candy crowley. we have a tied race for all practical purposes right now. the debate -- the final presidential debate is tonight.
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so what do both president obama and governor romney need to do tonight? >> reporter: they need to make a best last impression because this is the biggest audience they're going to have. either one of them between now and november 6th, election day. so they have to end this well, both of them. the stakes -- 47-47, the stakes are equally high for both of them. i do think and agree with sort of previously that when people look at commander in chief, which is a different title than president, it carries kind of the weight of the western world with it in a lot of ways. what people are looking for is kind of that cool hand on the tirl of the ship. both of them have to watch that kind of in your face, still showing strength, because what people want is strength. but they also want kind of a cool-eyed look at these hot spots around the world.
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so i think it will be a really interesting dance between the two of them as they both try to find that sweet spot, where they're both strong but not as fiery as they were last time around. >> what specific traps, candy, do both of these candidates need to avoid tonight? >> reporter: well, they both need to avoid big mistakes. i think particularly -- well, either one of them. something that's seen as a huge gaffe, you go back to a gerald ford and saying that poland wasn't under soviet influence, was huge. seemed like he wasn't up to the job, like he didn't understand global affairs. they both need to make sure that they've got it right and tonally that they have it right. they have to avoid -- i think for mitt romney has to avoid the trap clearly that the obama wants which is to say, fine, this guy's answer to everything is to go to war. we think iran's trying to develop nuclear weapons, he
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wants to go to war. so mitt romney has to walk through that ronald reagan thing, peace through strength and say, it's not about war but about strength. for president obama, they know they're going to come at him and say, you've been weak. they have to know this. this is not something that comes as some sort of intel from inside their debate preparation. both of them have to avoid -- mitt romney has to avoid looking too trigger happy, if you will, because that's how the obama people want to paint him. and the president needs to look strong and determined and like he does believe in a muscular foreign policy. so i think they have sort of opposite sides of the coin that each are going to go at the other about. >> candy, we'll look forward to having you join us for our continuing coverage obviously leading up to and after this debate. cap di, thanks very much. >> thanks, wolf. debate night in america, the third and final presidential debate will certain foengs in on foreign policy.
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cnn's coverage from boca raton, florida, begins tonight, 7:00 p.m. eastern right after "the situation room." should the obama administration launch direct negotiations with iran about its nuclear program? i'll ask senator john kerry, the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, a key member of president obama's debate team. [ ross ] in the taihang mountains of china, hand-carved on the side of a cliff is the guoliang tunnel. what?! you've got to be kidding me. [ derek ] i've never seen a road like this. there's jagged rock all the way around.
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a former democratic presidential nominee has been helping president obama with debate preparation. joining us is that senator, senator john kerry of massachusetts, the chairman of the foreign relations committee. he's been playing governor romney in some of those debate preparation rehearsals. senator, thanks very much for joining us. >> glad to be with you. thank you. >> i assume the president's ready tonight, right? >> well, everybody obviously hopes so. i think he feels terrific. i think he's looking forward to an opportunity to share with
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america the accomplishments that he's achieved in foreign policy, his agenda for the next four years. and i think particularly to have a chance to show the difference between a president who's made tough decisions, who's been specific, and a candidate for president who has frankly been vague on just about everything with about six positions on everything. >> i know that iran in its nuclear program will be high on the agenda during the debate tonight. do you believe the united states should engage in direct one-on-one bilateral negotiations with iran on its nuclear program? >> well, i think it's up to the president of the united states what forum he's going to choose or not choose. and right now, he's chosen the p-5, that's the forum that he's engaged in obviously. but he has consistently said that he is open to diplomacy and to negotiation in an effort to try to guarantee that we avoid war, if it's possible. but make no mistake, the
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president is prepared to follow through on any military option necessary. everybody knows this is a president who hasn't hesitated to back up his words with action. and i think iran has had that message delivered to them at any number of occasions, most recently a few weeks ago in the united nations. but the president prefers diplomacy over war. war should always be a last resort. i would hope mr. romney would prefer diplomacy and prefer discussions. >> i know u.s. presidents have long said that the united states does not negotiate with terrorists. but as you know, the obama administration, like the bush administration, has included iran as a state sponsor of terror on the state department's terror list. does it make any difference if you negotiate with a terrorist organization, let's say like al qaeda or hezbollah, which is on the terrorist list, or is state sponsor of terrorism? >> well, we don't negotiate with terrorists and we shouldn't negotiate with terrorists.
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and i think obviously we've been very clear about that through the years. but there are times -- even israel, for instance, who obviously negotiated the release of private shalite when they've had dealing with egypt through some organization or another, there are ways in diplomacy to have back channel and other kinds of conversations. but nobody's talking about entering into any direct negotiation with a terrorist organization. but a government, a state is obviously a different issue. and you have to deal with states. we dealt with china. we dealt with the soviet union. ronald reagan called the soviet union the evil empire and it couldn't have been more clear what the differences between us were. but he sat down with gorbachev and negotiated. anybody who comes along and just
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makes categorical pronouncements and pretends that that's sufficient leadership is going to lead america into a very dangerous place. this is a dangerous world we are living in right now, wolf. and you know that as well as anybody. so you need somebody with the experience and the knowledge and frankly the clarity in their policies. the president said he would get out of iraq, he got out of iraq. he said he's going to get out of afghanistan. he's withdrawing our troops and he's doing what's necessary to transition the afghan country and to create a military that can sustain them. he followed through on libya. he did what was necessary there in a very, very intelligent way where it didn't require american boots on the ground or huge expenditure of our taxpayer money. and we accomplished our goal. and the president is as close to israel as any president has ever been in terms of our military and intelligence cooperation. so you measure real things here, not the bluster of a candidate
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who's had six positions on everything. >> let's talk about libya for a moment. you know it's going to come up in the course of the debate tonight. the argument has been made -- and i'm sure you've rehearsed this with the president -- that romney probably will say, if he doesn't others will say, there were warnings, there were attacks on the u.s. consulate in benghazi leading up to the killing on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. the british had pulled out because it was too dangerous. the international red cross had pulled out because it was too dangerous. here's the question -- did the president know about all of these threats to the u.s. diplomats in benghazi? >> well, the president is going to speak for himself tonight. and i think it's important for the american people to let him do that. but let me just make it crystal clear. the president issued the appropriate orders, issued the appropriate instructions. the president has followed this as closely as he does on a daily
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briefing. i think you're aware of that, wolf. and the president, i believe, has made the right decisions. this is much more complicated than meets the eye. the president has ordered a thorough independent investigation. secretary of state clinton has chosen a very respected diplomat, tom pickering, and others to pursue this. but the president will speak to this very forcefully tonight if people want to try to make a political issue out of it. i think what's tragic is that in a moment of tragedy for the united states of america, when we lose american personnel, the first thing mitt romney does is goes out and politicizes it. the first thing he does is hold a press conference without even having the information about it. the first thing he does is try to make it a political football rather than rally together as america did on any number of occasions. i think it's frankly -- sorry, go ahead. >> talking about the politics
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this because rudy guiliani was on cnn earlier this morning and he was blistering in his criticism of the way the president dealt with this leading up to the killing of the ambassador and three others. >> if the president had been privy to the information beforehand, that there were numerous attacks there, planned attacks, including two on the embassy, one in april, one in june in which a hole was blown in the wall of the embassy. now all of a sudden you get an attack on september 11th and you're scratching your head about it? my goodness, if it wasn't a cover-up, the ineptitude of this administration is startling. then they can't be trusted to protect us. >> he basically says the president was either engaged in a cover-up or the ineptitude of this administration is startling. respond to the former new york mayor. >> the former new york mayor is famous for his bluster and he's famous for criticizing everybody about everything ever sense five
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days and 9/11. and has joe biden said a few years ago, you always hear a noun and a verb and 9/11 out of rudy guiliani's mouth. what he's saying is a lot of malarkey. it's not even an embassy. you just heard him talk about an embassy. i think it's important for people to get their facts together before they start these political attacks at this particular moment. i can remember plenty of occasions when we've had a tragedy somewhere in the world and i don't see us rushing to make it a political issue in the way that this has been made a political issue. i think the american people want to know the facts. they're going to hear the facts. they'll see the facts. the facts are that 30,000 libyans came out the next day holding up posters of our ambassador, rebelling against the militia that conducted this, if it was a militia, but whoever did it. they undertook to say, we are
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friends with the united states, we appreciate what chris stevens was trying to accomplish. the parents of chris stevens have said their son should not be made a political football. the mother of sean-sit has simil similarly said that. i think it's disgraceful that all the republicans can do is see a political moment and try to make political hay out of it. i think it's disgraceful. >> we're out of time. but do you know who did it? >> those facts are being thoroughly vetted by the intelligence community in cooperation with the libyan government. the president of libya cited al qaeda. other people have cited other groups. that's precisely why you try to figure out -- you aim before you shoot. you need to get the facts and that's precisely what the president is doing. this administration will thoroughly vet this publicly. everybody will know what's going on. i personally wrote a letter with all of the members of the foreign relations committee in a
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bipartisan way asking legitimate questions. but we're not trying to politicize it. we're trying to get the answers. and that's what we deserve. not this kind of political attack which doesn't serve our nation and it certainly doesn't serve the memory of a chris stevens who was fighting for democracy over there and who knew what he was doing every single day. >> senator kerry, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. a really small school hosts a really big event. an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how it's getting ready for tonight's presidential debate. [ ross ] we are in the dades gorge,
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if the vote ends up as close as the polls indicate right now, a handful of states could make
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the difference in this election. in fact, could the president actually lose the popular vote but win the electoral college count? our chief national correspondent john king is here with the -- it happened in 2000. happened a few times in our history. someone wins the popular vote nationally but loses the electoral college. >> it's happened four times in our history. people who run this scenario think it is more likely that mitt romney could win the popular vote but lose the presidency to president obama. but it's conceivable the flip could happen. thabo b could win the popular vote and mitt romney could be president. let's go back to the last time this happened. that would be the year 2000. we had the recount in florida. 48-48. technically he had 47 point something. al gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes. but the electoral college takes 270 to win. and when the florida recount
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went george w. bush's way, that made him president of the united states. when you count the votes cast, al gore won. there's been a huge fight about this in recent years. should we abolish the electoral college? should there be a revision to it? should the popular vote pick the presidency? this is what we have. we have the electoral college in this election at the moment, a slight advantage to the president. but i was just on a long conversation with team romney, they feel better about this map. they think -- both campaigns think it is conceivable that one person wins the popular vote but when you go state by state on the path to 270, somebody else is the next president of the united states. we have 15 days until we find out. >> are they already thinking about that scena john? planning for that -- in other words, one candidate wins more popular votes nationwide but the other candidate wins the all-important electoral college? >> are they thinking about it? yes. if you pressed them, they think somebody will win the national
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popular vote. but it is possible because this election is so close. the president wins big in california and in new york, if he wins other big states, get the popular vote up. but if governor romney wins the smaller, rural state, he could be president of the united states. flip it over, republicans win texas big. conceivable governor romney gets -- they don't think it will happen. but guess what? because of possible recount issues, florida came down to 537 odd votes last time. both teams have teams of lawyers waiting. let's hope the lawyers don't get deployed. but both campaigns will tell you they're standing by. >> hard to believe, 537 votes out of millions cast in florida made the difference in who was elected president in 2000. john, don't go too far away. there won't be any more do-overs once tonight's final presidential debate has ended.
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one of the biggest mistakes the candidates must be sure to avoid, our strategy session, standing by with some answers. i. the writer's desktop and the coordinator's phone are working on a joke with local color. the secure cloud just received a revised intro from the strategist's tablet. and while i make my way into the venue, the candidate will be rehearsing off of his phone. [ candidate ] and thanks to every young face i see out there. [ woman ] his phone is one of his biggest supporters. [ female announcer ] with cisco at the center... working together has never worked so well. everyone in the nicu, all the nurses wanted to watch him when he was there 118 days. everything that you thought was important to you changes in light of having a child that needs you every moment.
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. let's get to ohr "strategy session." joining us, paul begala, senior strategist for the democratic super pac, the fund-raising group known as priorities usa and priorities usa action. also joining us, the former bush white house press secretary, ari fleischer. thanks for coming in, guys. we asked both of you to share with us what you thought were the worst moments for president obama and governor romney in the previous two debates. paul, this is what you said was president obama's worst moment going back to the first debate. >> i suspect that on social security we've got a somewhat similar position. social security is structurally sound. it's going to have to be tweaked the way it was by ronald reagan and speaker -- democratic
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speaker tip o'neal. but the basic structure is sound. >> all right. paul, why was that his worst moment and what does he need to do tonight to avoid that kind of, in your opinion, mistake? >> well, look at where we're standing. we're in florida, also called god's waiting room. there are a lot of seniors here. the truth is the proper attack on governor romney on social security is you selected as your running mate a man who called for and voted for and supported partial privatization of social security. that's the last thing we needed. if we'd done what your running mate wanted to do, governor romney, social security would be in terrible shape today because the stock market cratered under current republican policies. i think the president had his facts wrong on that. romney is vulnerable on social security. >> ari, you thought this was governor romney's worst moment. it happened in the second debate. i'll play it. >> any investments i have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. and i understand they do include
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investments outside the united states, including in chinese companies. mr. president, have you looked at your pension? have you looked at your pension? >> i have to say -- >> mr. president, have you looked at your pension? >> i don't look at my pension. it's not as big as yours. so it doesn't take long. i don't check it that often. >> ari, why was that governor romney's, in your opinion, worst mistake? what does he need to do to avoid it? >> it was really stylistic. he said the same line three times in a row. in other words, it wasn't working. he should have said, have you checked your pension, your pension is invested in china. by giving the president the floor, mitt romney lost the point. so it was one of those -- he gave the president an opening, he gave him a get out of jail free card by the three-time repeat waiting for the president to take the bait. what he tried to do to newt gingrich with success is the same thing. he did it to newt in the primaries with investments. it didn't work as well on president obama. >> what were their best moments? i'll start with you, paul.
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>> well, for president obama, his best moment by far was the closing shot -- it wasn't just a statement -- that he made in the second debate at hofstra university where he went back to that 47% speech that governor romney gave here in boca raton behind closed doors to a bunch of millionaires where he seemed to denigrate and insult senior citizens and veterans and retirees and the working poor. i thought the president nailed him so hard on that. it was terrific. >> what was governor romney's best moment according to your analysis, ari? >> well, he zeroed in right on the core of the campaign when he went through the president's record and in a very softspoken way he said, the problem is what you've done in the last four years. here were your promises. you said you'd cut the deficit in half, you didn't do it. you said unemployment would be beau 6% right now. it's not. he went through a specific litany of presidential promises that were promises broken, every
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one of which added up to how badly the economy is doing. i thought that was his most effective. >> do you agree with that, paul? >> actually, no, i don't. but romney's best moment -- his more difficult challenge is being positive, getting on the offensive positively. his first answer in the first debate where romney just -- he was a human powerpoint. he ticked off the five things that he would want to do if he won the job. to me, that's what this whole deal is. it's just a glorified job interview. i thought that was mitt romney's best moment when ticked off, this is exactly what i'll do for you, as if he had a powerpoint presentation to the voter zls what w. >> what was the president's best moment, ari? >> the president's best moment was when he fired up that indignation about, we don't do that for political purposes, in talking about the handling of the president's actions in benghazi. i don't know that it was
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convincing for republicans or independents but it helped him with the democratic base. >> he showed how angry he was by saying the words romney was using was offensive. that word was a powerful moment indeed. we have much more of our "strategy session" coming up, including new polls just out today from the critical battleground state of ohio. this race for the white house couldn't be any tighter there. but i'm still stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way. [ male announcer ] sorry. alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose. thanks. [ male announcer ] you're welcome. that's the cold truth! [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus. ♪ oh what a relief it is! [ male announcer ] try new alka-seltzer plus severe allergy to treat allergy symptoms plus sinus congestion and pain.
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we're back with our "strategy session" and our contributors, paul begala and ari fleischer. before we move on to the polls, paul, what is the one thing the president desperately needs to do tonight?
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>> we needs to integrate international and domestic issues. foreign policy is economic policy. he needs to say that and he needs to say, i ended combat operations in iraq and i'm bringing those guys and gals home. i want to stop the combat in afghanistan and come home and do some nation-building right here in america. that's what his policies would do. i think that's what he ought to say. >> ari, what does governor romney desperately need do tonight? >> i don't think desperate because he's in pretty good shape after these two debates. if i were mitt, on foreign policy and on military matters, i need to come across as thoughtful. he wants the american people to say, he's judicious. if this man is sitting at that oval office, if he has his finger on the button, he'll be thoughtful about how he protects our country, not knee-jerk, not cowboy, thoughtful. and the president is going to try to paint him into the, you're a militaryist, bomb-first mentality. mitt needs to resist that. >> the polls out of ohio, the suffolk university poll, likely
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voters, obama, 47, romney, 47. the cbs/"the new york times"/quinnipiac university poll, obama, 50, romney, 45. looks like it's pretty tight in ohio. what are you seeing? >> pretty tight. but you've seen a reliable, stable, narrow obama lead in ohio. and that's going to continue through. i think barack obama wins ohio. here's why. for once, liberals did something that people could understand. it was saving the auto industry. one out of eight jobs in that state is dependent on autos. barack obama saved the auto industry. mitt romney famously would not have supported the obama auto bailout. >> if he wins ohio, ari, i'm sure you agree the rescue of general motors and chrysler probably will be the single most important reason. >> yeah, but we're missing a big factor and that's the president's vulnerability on
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energy policy. av turned against the president. united mine workers won't even endorse the president. he has a problem on the other side of the state as well. when you look at those polls, the same issue that was prevalent a month ago, two months ago remains. the polls continue to oversample democrats. i like where republicans are sitting right now. when you look at mitt romney's numbers in ohio and across the battleground states, i would much rather be mitt romney in these closing two weeks than barack obama, anytime, any day. looks like a stronger finish for governor romney. and turnout will be essential. where are the 18 to 29-year-olds? what percentage is the black vote? that's the big task the president's campaign has to get out. >> but in new hampshire, only a few electoral votes but the granite state poll likely choice for president, 49, obama, 41,
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romney. that's a pretty significant lead at this point, two weeks before the election. >> right. and that poll has a democratic oversample of seven percentage point. in 2008, the democrats turned out two percentage points more in new hampshire. that poll is so far out of whack, i'm not worried about it one bit. >> here's the question -- >> it's a valid point to make. >> the poll shows more democrats because more people are identifying as democrats because they like what the president -- >> it's a revised common sense. >> hold on, guys. paul, one quick question to you before i let both of you go. the president's campaign announced he's going to begin a six-state campaign tour over the next couple of days after the debate. iowa, colorado, nevada, florida, virginia, ohio. has he given up on north carolina? >> yes. i'm not supposed to say that. but i worked for the pro-obama
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super pac. so i'm being paid to help reelect the president. but if you look at where he's spending money, it looks like governor romney is likely to carry north carolina. but those other six or seven states, i think all of them -- i haven't seen one poll that show romney leading, certainly not outside the margin of error. >> the fascinating thing is what's going to happen in michigan and pennsylvania. is this battlefield going to expand? in pennsylvania for republicans and michigan, have been tough states since the mid '80s. it's almost like lucy and the football. but the romney people are taking a serious look at especially michigan. pennsylvania, who knows? >> i don't know how serious it is because the romney campaign is not spending a lot of money, if any. some super pacs might be in pac pennsylvania and michigan. >> which is amazing. romney's going to lose the state he was born in, where he was governor in -- >> he'll still be the president of the united states.
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>> it's debate night in america and here in "the situation room" as well. guys, thanks very much. the third and final presidential debate will focus on foreign policy. cnn's live coverage from boca raton, florida, begins right after "the situation room," 7:00 p.m. eastern. each candidate is making claims about what the other would do to america's defense spending. we're trying to sort it all out. we've got a reality check. that's next. so uh this is my friend frank and his, uh, retirement plan.
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foreign policy will take center stage in tonight's final presidential debate. our expert team of producers, researchers and reporters, they watching for when the candidates are or are not telling the truth and nothing but the truth. it's an issue making waves out there on the campaign trail and our john berman with a reality check for us right now. >> thanks, wolf. start with defense spenting because on the subject of spending president obama charges that mitt romney wants a substantial increase in military spending. >> governor romney then also wants to spend $2 trillion on additional military programs even though the military's not asking for them. >> what will the facts here in mitt romney says the pentagon's base budget which does not include war spending in afghanistan should be about 4% of the gross domestic product. a sense of that, scheduled to be about $3.5% next year.
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they project that the romney plan adds $2.1 trillion over 10 years although the romney campaign says that will be largely offset by reduced war spending in afghanistan. now, as for whether the military's asking for the money as the president says leon panetta, the current secretary of defense and current pentagon generals not asking for an increase though former secretary of defense gates and joint chiefs mullens praised the number. the verdict is mostly true with context. the two $2 trillion is over 10 years and need to understand it doesn't include reduced or increased spending in were and the current military establishment isn't asking for the money. how about the reverse claim on defense spending in mitt romney says president obama is calling for huge defense cuts. >> if the president's re-elected you will see about a trillion dollars in cuts to our military. with impact on the veterans. let me tell you.
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when i'm president i will not cut our military budget. we must defend america's strength. >> so the president is calling for some defense cuts but to get to $1 trillion you have to add about $500 billion in cuts happening if the country falls off the fiscal cliff and no new budget deal. those cuts part of the sequestration package signed by the president and passed by congress. the verdict is misleading. there is a way to $1 trillion in cuts but it's suggests as part of the president's plan that's not really fair. wolf? >> good reality check for us, john. john's doing this throughout the night for us. they say it's the biggest thing they've ever done. how such a small university is prepping to host tonight's huge debate. [ woman ] it's 32 minutes to go time,
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and the candidate's speech is in pieces all over the district. the writer's desktop and the coordinator's phone are working on a joke with local color. the secure cloud just received a revised intro from the strategist's tablet. and while i make my way into the venue, the candidate will be rehearsing off of his phone. [ candidate ] and thanks to every young face i see out there. [ woman ] his phone is one of his biggest supporters. [ female announcer ] with cisco at the center... working together has never worked so well.
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with no odor. so all you notice is relief. aspercreme. :exclusive. white house correspondent dan lothian at lin university in florida with the behind scenes look at the making of tonight's debate. >> reporter: for lin university, this is the super bowl of politics. >> yeah, you have the phone lines. >> this is the overflow media work space. >> this is the biggest thing we have ever done. >> the count no longer marked in days but hours and gregory, the man who helped make the pitch for the debate had to make it happen is feeling the pressure. >> check, check, check all day long. and then, verify, verify, verify. >> reporter: after two middle of the night phone calls, the senior vice president for administration, is back on the campus for the final meeting with the staff and cnn got an exclusive look behind the scenes. >> okay.
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stay with the original plan. >> reporter: it's 8:30 a.m. >> center's up and running. debate hall is functioning. temp is set. all the gates are locked and secured. >> reporter: by 10:00 a.m., he moves on to a critical closed-door meeting with commission representatives and all sides ironing out last-minute details. there's a lot at stake and a lot of details. i mean, you know, there's issues where they could be unhappy if things aren't planned right and that would be an unpleasant thing. >> reporter: an hour later, on the move again rattling off staggering numbers, 70 miles of cable to accommodate the press. more than 1,000 phone lines all snaking out of this room. and behind this door -- >> no one has seen it. >> reporter: the network powering computers and wireless devices. >> this is where the brains of the oerpg are. >> reporter: inside the debate hall, president obama and governor romney have done their
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walk-throughs. the cameras are ready. there's equipment in a tight space where the networks have their studios. what's different in this debate than the other three is that this is a much smaller auditorium. in fact, calling it an intimate setting. and in fact, as late as sunday afternoon they were bolting down additional chairs, 16 here to accommodate more people. janet brown is the executive director of the debate committee. >> there's a different feel to it. anything that lets the candidates and the moderator focus on the importance of the conversation with the least distraction by anything else is a good thing. >> reporter: foreign policy and how both candidates engage face to face is the primary focus of the debate but behind the scenes, making it happen is a massive undertaking. two years in the making. comes down to one night. >> that's when you'll relax, when it's all over. >> maybe tomorrow. maybe tomorrow. >> now, this used to be called a
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college of boca raton but i covered it changing to lin university. they had 800 students then and now more than 2,100. still a small school but in a big spotlight tonight, wolf. >> dan lothian, thank you. i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. >> is this the time to unleash the one liners? that answer was about as clear as boston harbor. >> we are in the grip of a failed economic theory and this decision better be about what kind of economic theory you want. >> i got to answer this. tell tony blair we're going alone. it denigrates an alliance to say we're going alone, to decrease the sacrifices. >> i don't know how we invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. the final face-off of the presidential campaign, mitt
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romney and president obama debating foreign policy tonight. >> with the race tied and election two weeks from tomorrow, the stakes for both men tonight are extremely high. good evening, everyone. i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." we're now less than three hours from the third and final debate of this presidential campaign. this one at lin university in boca raton, florida. as we learned, these contests can have a huge impact on the race for the white house. >> they certainly have so far. mitt romney's strong showing the first debate helped him catch up to the president in the polls and president obama's aggressive debate in the second debate left us with a race that's a dead heat tonight. let's get a preview of tonight's battle and mitt romney's game plan with jim as to that in boca raton, florida. jim? >> reporter: democratic and republican operatives here in the debate spin room are
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expecting another fiery debate tonight between president obama and mitt romney. and in the words of one top romney adviser, the gop nominee's campaign expects the president to come out swinging. for mitt romney, debate night may be shaping up to be another fight night with president obama. while seated at a roundtabling, a setting of subdued discussion, they will be one near another. >> have you looked at your pension? >> reporter: if things are testy, they don't have to cross a stage to invade personal space as they did in new york. they may already be too close for comfort. sources tell cnn's romney's sparring partner is trying to get under the gop nominee's skin in debate practice sessions to prepare him for what may be another fiery night. a senior romney adviser tells cnn the campaign expects the president won't come out like a
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lamb, something vice president joe biden may have telegraphed today in ohio. >> i realize maybe that looked more symbolic tan it is. >> reporter: an article in "the new york times" stating the u.s. and iran may begin direct talks about the nation's nuclear program, a reporter trying to ask romney before a flag football game between the staff and traveling press corps. >> one on one talks with the president, i was about to answer. >> reporter: romney may try to press the president on the consulate attack in libya as he did in the last debate. >> it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi an act of terror. >> get the transcript. >> reporter: the romney campaign has a web ad teasing the president for the comments of russian president medvedev. >> but the obama campaign says's ready for that noting what romney told cnn earlier this yore. >> this is without question our
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number one geo political foe. >> reporter: one thing worth noting in the debate spin room before this debate even gets started, the last two losing presidential candidates, john mccain and john kerry, have both been furiously spinning here in the spin room. john mccain a couple of hours ago accusing the president of a policy called abject failure in the middle east and john kerry to a group of reporters in here saying that mitt romney cannot etch-a-sketch a way through foreign policy. >> ugly already. thanks very much, jim acosta. let's get a little bit more on what the president's planning to do tonight. joining us now is deputy campaign manager stephanie cutter joining us also from boca raton. thank you for coming in. you know that mitt romney, an attack line for a long time, has been sick and tired of hearing the president apologize for america. how's the president going to answer that tonight? >> well, let's see if mitt romney brings it up because it's
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been fact checked numerous times. in fact, fact checked false. if he brings it up, i think the president will be ready to talk about the strong and steady leadership over four years as president an enkeeping the country safe restoring our standing in the world but also ending the war in iraq, bringing to a end war in afghanistan and bringing bin laden to justice, holding china accountable for unfair trade practices. there's a long litany of accomplishments from this president and strong and steady leadership as the commander in chief. you know, we're looking forward to tonight. we would love to contrast the president's record with mitt romney's record. he doesn't have much of a record. he's given six foreign policy speeches with zero policy in it. the only thing we know about mitt romney's foreign policies are a series of blunders and lots of bluster. blunders on the world stage. we remember his foreign trip. >> all right. >> where he insulted the
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greatest allies and bluster on iran, afghanistan, yue name it. so this should be a good debate tonight. >> here's a little clip from a new romney ad going after the president. >> most americans believe we're heading in the wrong direction. higher deficits. chronic unemployment. a president who admits he can't work with congress. >> you can't change washington from the inside. >> but he says he's only had four years. that's all mitt romney needed to turn massachusetts around, cut unemployment, turn the deficit he inherited in to a rainy day fund all with an 85% democratic legislature. some can't live up to their promises. others find a way. >> all right. the basic point he's making is that this president has not been able to really work with republicans during the nearly four years. what do you say about that? >> well, first i want to address mitt romney's record. you know, wolf, i'm from massachusetts. i know what mitt romney's record is in terms of reaching across
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the aye. there isn't one. you know, he cornered himself off in the state house from every other legislature. >> he did get health care reform passed in massachusetts. >> he did but as you know, wolf -- he did and the train had left that station by the time he got on board. we all know that. you know, i worked with ted kennedy. i'm familiar with that. in terms of his record in massachusetts, i just listened to that ad, he did not reduce the deficit. he left a deficit for devalue patrick. >> the question, stephanie -- >> largest per capita debt of any governor in the country. that's the real record. >> any president to work with republicans to pass important legislation over these four years. >> well, wolf, he has, actually. payroll tax cuts, trade deals, a number of pieces of legislation but you know what's been going on in washington. you're aware of what mitch mcconnell said years ago when the president was first being inaugurated. number one goal to make the president a one-term president.
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we know that republicans were conspireing on the night of the president's inaugural to block anything from getting through so the president wouldn't have a record. well, he does have a record. through his own initiative, through executive actions to move this country forward and also passed monumental legislation whether it's holding wall street accountable, playing by the same rules as main street, historic health care reform. after 70 years of trying we have historic health care reform. peel all over the country benefiting from it. tax cuts. on average, middle class family's taxes $3,600 less than when we took office. the president turned the economy around. we have more work to do. he has a yaend to do that. we need willing partners. he talked about the election as breaking the fever. the reason we don't have a deficit reduction deal, the reason why we're dealing with sequesters is because republicans won't give an inch. won't give another nickel of taxes from those at the top. you know? that's part of what this election is about and the president's said we hope that
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this breaks the fever. we hope that republicans will finally come to the table and want real progress for this country rather than partisan politics. >> stephanie cutter, thank you for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. anderson, back to you. >> you heard from stephanie cut we are the obama campaign. our panel weighs in next. eveverery y titimeme o of f. ououtdtdoooorsrs, , oro. trtranansisititiononss® ls auautotomamatiticacalllly y fift ththe e ririghght t amamouountn. soso y youou s seeee e eveg ththe e waway y itit is memeanant t toto b be e ses. mamaybybe e evevenen a lilittttlele b betette. exexpeperirienencece l lifife e, asask k fofor r trtrananss adadapaptitiveve l lene.
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to events that engage and create buzz... to e-mails that keep loyal customers coming back, our easy-to-use tools will keep you in front of your customers. see what's right for you at welcome to debate night in america. let's talk to the panelists and chief political analyst gloria borger is with us and fareed zakaria and van jones and cnn's political contributor and consultant alex castianas. let's talk about the debate on foreign policy but not a lot of daylight between the two men. what is tonight really about? >> foreign policy debates are different from domestic policy debates and domestic policy you look to see whether the candidates agrees with your general world view, policies.
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what would he do about various issues from the economy the abortion. foreign policy is more about character. many people don't get to the details. what kind of a person is this? i would say i know this is contrary to conventional wisdom and almost more important because it's about the big thing that people care about. >> and about -- so about whether it's on whatever the issue, it's projecting the character on the international stage? >> what kind of a leader are you? what kind of leaders and judgment do you bring? yesterday, actually, october 21st, 1960, the fourth and final nixon-kennedy debate and on foreign policy all about cuba. kennedy able to hold his own with nixon and mattered a lot at the end. >> if you're president obama, david, gloria, do you try to get specifics out of mitt romney? >> i think that there's a trap that the president may have in store for mitt romney and that's basically he'll lay out the position and basically -- and then ask him, okay, when's your
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alternative in romney has to say i agree with you on iran, for example, or syria or did the right of him and then president obama can say, ah, yes, you sound like george w. bush. you want to take us back to war. i think obama wants to run tonight as the peace candidate appealing to women voters, trying to be reassuring, i'll provide security. i got bin laden but keeping us out of war. how about you, mr. romney? >> there's been discussion inside the romney campaign about how you deal with the question of assertiveness without seeming to be too bell. kous. you have a war weary nation you're deal with and want to be more assertive. let the generals on the ground make the final determine in addition if afghanistan? to an american public that sounds like you don't want to withdraw in 2014 so it's a delicate balance mitt romney has to strike because you're right.
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the president will pounce and say, when will you get out of afghanistan? >> we've heard about the apology tour. do you expect to hear that again tonight? >> i think you are going to hear him challenge the president on -- as fareed was saying, presidential strength. this president has waivered, that this president has apologized for the country instead of held up when's exceptional about it and won't be respected in the world unless we're able to project american strength. >> but just on the facts, there have been not -- he's not been apologizing saying i'm sorry. there was an apology over the burning of korans. >> there's a certain poetic license allowed in politics and i think romney is taking -- >> one way to put it. >> taking advantage of that but the president did go out, go abroad and say that, you know, point the finger at america as being a country that's at times overreached, been hard to work with and understandably trying to earn credibility to open new
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lines of dialogue with the world, fine, but one thing this president has not done in many ways is project american strength. he's -- >> drone strikes in pakistan. >> well, drone strikes and bin laden. good for him. on the other hand, we have also seen this president cuddle up to medvedev and say i'll be more flexible on -- >> is that cuddling? >> on the election ivan jones? what do you anticipate seeing tonight? >> first of all, i think president obama has done an extraordinary job and everybody knows it. it's not just mitt romney. it's not bin laden. he's eliminated and wiped out half of the leadership of al qaeda. that is an extraordinary achievement. when you talk about libya, don't forget about what happened to ambassador stevens, who i knew, a reaction to the success of libya of a democratic process without losing a single american soldier. he's a towering figure on the
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achievements of foreign policy and part of the reason i think you see republicans wanting to say the things about him are not just true and want to diminish him. i think fareed is right. this is on the world stage able to be a steady hand, not been a cowboy and benefited as a country from it. >> this is a president who says he's supported mubarak before he undermined mubarak. he has the world -- the world has seen an indeterminate president. >> we'll talk about that a lot tonight. he is the one person who's by mitt romney's side, even took this picture of the governor eating dinner tonight. now romney's body man as they call him is spilling secrets. what frustrates him and what's in romney's fridge? details ahead. there are a lot of warning lights
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lance armstrong stripped of his tour de france titles. kate baldwin is monitoring that and the top stories right now. when's going on? >> hey there, wolf. stripping armstrong of all seven of his tour de france wins and calling for him to return almost $4 million in prize money. in a blistering statement, the union said armstrong has no place in cycling citing overwhelming evidence of doping and an allegation armstrong continues to de nooy. no jail time for florida a
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and m student. but brian jones was sentenced to six months house arrest two years probation and 200 hours of community service for his role in the incident that killed robert champion last year. he died after an initiation in which he was punched and kicked by senior band members. and finally, more controversy from missouri gop congressman and senate hopeful todd akin. akin compared the democratic opponent to a dog who plays fetch and fetch for hire for higher taxes and regulation in washington and brings them back to missouri saying he was using an analogy. one of several key senate races we're watching this cycle. anderson? >> thank you very much. we are counting down to the final presidential daeblt. how president obama's preparing and a key opponent is being called vague. mar corubio of florida and he's here live. talk to him ahead. [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role
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welcome back. we are counting down to tonight's final presidential debate. this one at lin university in florida. cnn's chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is there with details of the obama game pain. the new ad today, when's it tell you about the president's strategy tonight? >> reporter: hey, anderson. it tells us a little bit about his two-pronged approach tonight. first, it's to establish the little bit of the commander in chief test for governor romney and secondly to press governor romney on what he would differently than the president has in office. take a look at this ad. >> president obama ended the iraq war. mitt romney would have left 30,000 troops there. and called bringing them home tragic. >> reporter: the ad goes on to press the same point about iraq and the fact that governor romney suggested leaving troops there, as well. you could expect the president to bring up the following three points which were released in a memo brin by senator kerry and
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as you know is playing governor romney in debate prep. he asks, for example, how exactly would you, governor romney, finish the job against al qaeda and what would you do differently than the president has done? this is memo released today. how will you end the war in afghanistan? what will you do differently to prevent iran of getting a nuke cloer weapon? you see a theme here, anderson. the idea is, you can expect the president to be on the offensive to the extent he can be pressing governor romney tonight to explain his differences and one of the themes is, if he's not going to back the president's policy, the president is going to argue in a number of cases that governor is -- that governor romney is looking for more military action in a number of places around the world so endless war versus more of the same could be the way you see the president frame this. wolf? >> jessica, thank you. his name was widely floated as a potential romney running mate and even though he didn't get the nod, republican senator marco rubio of florida remaining
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one of the gop's rising stars and certainly a major romney supporter. senator rubio is joining us now from boca raton. thank you for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> i'm sure you saw that sharp attack on you in sunday's "the new york times" by the columnist frank rooney who wrote among other things, you present rosy assumptions and slippery generalizations. you're, quote, maddeningly evasive. politicians tell us low tax, no-pain fantasiefantasies. treat us like toddlers. rubio certainly did. talking about a briefing you gave journalists in new york about how romney would pay for the across the board tax cut that is he is proposing. i wonder if you, a, if you read the arm and want to respond to that columnist. >> i'm actually a subscriber and i must be missed that one. not surprising to have a negative write-up in "the new york times." there's some folks that believe that the economy's a limited thing and the job of government
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is to go and divide it up amongst us and raising taxes on some and not on others. i don't believe that. i believe many of us in the limited government don't bloef that. we believe that everyone can be better off. you don't have to leave anybody else worse off to help other people be better off. i think history proves that possible, especially in america's dynamic 20th century. i think we can exceed that in the 21st century. now, we will have some difficult and important decisions to make politically difficult decisions to make on things like medicare but the sooner we do those things the better off we'll be and less disruptive think eve be. i've been running on that since 2010. >> i want to get to medicare but what specific deductions do you think people in florida should anticipate if mitt romney's elected and has a 20% across the board budget cut there? home mortgage deductions? charitable deductions?
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child care deductions? which do you want to see go away? >> look, i can identify a bunch of deductions to look at and say they don't make a lot of sense. >> which ones? >> well, for example, a yacht. you can have a yacht as a second home. and take that as a second home deduction. there's all kinds of things. members of congress get a deduction for living expenses up to a certain amount in washington, d.c. we can go through all of them. that's not the point. the point is what governor romney outlined is a plan and he's going to lower corporate and personal rates enhe's going to make up the difference reexamining the tax code and getting rid of exemptions that do no longer make sense. there has to be a process to do that and working with congress to identify which are the ones that don't make sense. that's how you get things done in a bipartisan way. that's why he was successful in massachusetts. the opposite approach is to come in -- >> excuse me for interrupting. the criticism getting and you got in the column in "the new york times" is you're telling the voters just wait. we'll tell you -- we'll give you the bad news later.
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>> no. >> which deductions right now. only the good news. that's a 20% tax cut. >> but there isn't any bad news. that's the point. the point is if you lower people's rates, lower the rates, that's going to replace the exemptions that are going to be taken out. that's the whole point of tax reform. the whole point is not to raise people's taxes. it's to simplify the tax code and what some ask for is which specific exemptions are you going to take out and my answer is to identify some i think don't make sense but you have to do that with the entire congress. you'll have do get it passed out of both chambers. i don't think the right approach for mitt romney to go in saying these are the specific deductions. one through 80 and my way or no way at all. that's not how you get things done. you give an outline of what to do. >> you think the loopholes, the tax credits, whatever, that's going to add up to the $5 trillion or whatever the reduction in tax revenues would be that mitt romney's proposing?
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>> yeah. yes, that's exactly his point. his point is that those deductions are going to match up. he won't add to the deficit by going through tax reform and i think that's possible and when you add in to that, when you add in to that the growth element of it, because we believe as i think history bears out, as john f. kennedy believed if you lower tax rates you incentivize activity and generates more revenue for government. look at the last decade. people criticized the left especially the bush tax cuts but during the last decade we had historic increases in revenue despite the tax cuts but also in spending that offset the increases in revenue. economic growth creates revenue for government. >> the other big issue in florida and you know this more than anyone, there's concern of florida's seen i don't recalls that romney is going to go ahead and create a voucher system for medicare. you say medicare is the best system right now so heerl's the question. why tinker with something that's
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working? >> well, first of all, medicare is working for people that are current beneficiaries and it's not going to change for current beneficiaries. i use the example of my mother who's a beneficiary of medicare. i'll never support anything that undermines that program for her. but i understand that people in my generation, 20, 30 years away from retirement, if we continue what we're doing now there won't be a medicare for us so my generation has to accept our medicare may very well be different than the one our parent's had. the best thing in the world and still function very well but different. for example, wealthier seniors will have to pay more for medicare in the future. the way the program is delivered, may have choices, we may be able to have a premium support every month to go out and shop for medicare plan of our own like we do now for some seniors in medicare advantage and i think the sooner we start making the changes, again, for future beneficiaries the less disruptive the changes are going to be and less of a need, the elimination of a need to do anything to current
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beneficiaries right now. there won't be changes for them. >> all right. senator, unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. senator rubio in florida. beautiful florida. appreciate it. >> thanks. easy for candidates to make promises in a campaign. not always so easy to keep the promises. john king at the magic wall getting ready to break down some of the big debate pledges. stay with us. [ female announcer ] introducing yoplait greek 100. 100% new. 100% mmm... wow, that is mmm... it's so mmm you might not believe it's a hundred calories. new yoplait greek 100. it is so good. new yoplait greek 100. wooohooo....hahaahahaha!
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debate hall at lin university in boca raton, florida, ready for the big debate between the president of the united states and the republican nominee. we can expect to hear a lot of promises at tonight's debate about how the candidates will
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handle foreign policy but those promises are often very hard to keep. our chief national correspondent john king is over at the magic wall taking a closer look. one thing to make a promise when you're a candidate. another thing to deliver quh you're in office. >> every president goes through this. president obama tonight will have the experience he didn't have four years ago. he was the senator then. he made some promises. bill clinton, go back to any first-time candidate for president, the challengers say things. go back to 2000. george w. bush then the govern nor of texas talked about rebuilding alliances here in this hemisphere and said overseas he would have a humble foreign policy. >> i think we need to convince people that live in the lands they live in to build the nations. maybe i'm missing this. a nation core from america? absolutely not. the military is meant to fight and win war. >> said governor bush in this 2000 debate. of course, he went on to be the president that started the war in iraq, afghanistan and two
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longest wars and many argue a lot of money and nation building whether you think successes or failures. this is one president obama will remember. candidate obama in the debate four years ago. >> lead by shutting down guantanamo and restoring habeus corpus in this country for an example. >> guantanamo, the terrorist detention center still open. now president promised to close it in the first year in office. still open today. this one, wolf, you remember this very well. governor romney on a topic we know will come up tonight. >> the right course in america is to stand up to iran with crippling sanctions, indict ahmadinejad for violating the genocide convention, put in place the kind of crippling sanctions that stop their economy. i know it makes gasoline more expensive. there's no price worth an iranian nuclear weapon. >> interesting comment there, gas prices go up, no price he wouldn't pay, wolf. bill clinton said he wouldn't
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deal with the butchers in beijing, butchers in damascus. he had relations with them. every candidate goes through the transformation. they have to step over the credibility issue but as president obama you remember the promises you couldn't keep. as governor romney, hopefully mindful of history. >> president nixon opened the door to china. you see how young president obama looked four years ago? george w. bush back in 2000. youthful. >> yeah. it's always startling. wait until you see how old we look by the end of this evening. as much as this is about foreign policy, do you guys any doubt we're also hearing about the economy an try to bring up the economy as much as possible? >> i think both of them will try to do and president obama has been pivoting on that subject since these debates have started and even before. he has the line he says the nation building i want to do is nation building right here at home in the united states. i also think that is what americans want to hear. if you look at polls, anderson, over the last year and a half or
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so, there's been a dramatic falloff even among republicans hard core republicans, you know, they don't want an assertive foreign policy. they want no foreign policy. they want the united states and the president in particular to devote his attentions to the u.s. economy. >> what they don't want to do is spend money on wars, period. comes a budget issue, the green eye shades, saw that during the primaries. ron paul was getting applause during the primary debates. one way that the president can turn foreign policy in to domestic policy is to say that what mitt romney wants to do is take you back to the george w. bush years, not only on intervention but also on economics and, you know, that's a pretty good construct because last time i checked, george w. bush is not that popular and neither are the wars. >> anderson, this is only ostensibly a debate about foreign policy. this is really the last
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opportunity both candidates have to address the public to make their closing arguments to try to close the deal and for that pump going through foreign policy as fareed suggested to get to the economy and particularly what mitt romney wants to do tonight. to reinforce the economic argument. i think barack obama particularly wants to go through the foreign policy issues to reach out to women. >> just by holding his own, though, can mitt romney win -- i mean, is that all mitt romney needs to do? >> he needs to be credible. he has to be presidential which is why some of the romney people today were saying to me don't expect the rat-a-tat-tat of the last debate but you never know. what they say is slow down to mitt romney because he had a tendency to get kind of revved up and they don't want that to happen tonight. >> that's interesting. i think that we'll talk about this more but i think there's a tentative quality about mitt romney. we saw it in the clip getting on
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foreign policy. he's not as smooth. >> i think gloria's right. there's philosophical problem here. romney wants to be -- wants to attack and attack hard and attack obama hard and can't come across to a warmonger to a public that's war weary so looking at the virginia institute military speech there's bluster about doing this better and tougher. but if you ask yourself on specific foreign policy issues where does he disagree with the obama administration, wung thing, which is he would try to get them to arm the syrian rebels we can be sure are not jihadis. good luck. if that's the foreign policy divide, you know. >> also on afghanistan he said he would evaluate the conditions on the ground and weigh the advice of the military commanders. >> on iran, not just having the capability -- i mean, he'll say for a capability of a nuclear -- >> walked that back in the
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virginia speech, went back to the bright line iran not having nuclear weapons. you are right. he said prior to that nuclear weapon capabilities. he doesn't want to come across as beling rent. >> i think it reflects the tensions of the republican party on foreign policy. there's two sides of mitt romney's brain on this. one is a lot of george w. bush adviser who is are talking to him, who are sort of invested in the policies and iraq and afghanistan. the other part is some of the romney-ites saying you have to distance yourself speaking to a war weary public. >> the success of the first debate came because he stopped worrying about the tensions in the republican party and spoke to the elect rat as a whole and that -- propelled him forward. >> we have to take a quick break. you're going to meet coming up the man that sees mitt romney in his most unguarded moments, meet the candidate's body man and learn some secrets of romney's life on the campaign trail. a lot more coverage ahead.
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these days he sees more of mitt romney than the candidate's own wife. talking about personal assistant or body man as he calls himself. he shares unguarded moments of life on the campaign trail, tweeting candid pictures of candidate and reveals some secrets to cnn's national political correspondent jim acosta. ♪
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>> reporter: each time mitt romney walks out on stage, there's a young, 25-year-old campaign aide who is never far away. >> great crowd tonight! going to be fun. >> reporter: his name is garrett jackson or known on twitter, mitt's body man. he's the candidate's personal assistant. >> i feel like i have one of the coolest jobs in the world. >> reporter: on and off and on the campaign plane jackson rarely leaves romney's side. >> you use this one. >> reporter: campaign rallies, the mike is working. and the press is a safe distance away. jackson is also busy snapping photos to supply the twitter followers with behind the scenes glimpses of romney's white house run. here's romney getting miked up before the town hall debate, sharing a hug with his wife ann before going out on stage and sharing a laugh with president obama before last week's al smith benefit dinner in new
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york. how did they get along? >> great. you know? it's really great to put politics aside and come together for a great cause like that so -- >> reporter: you didn't sense any tension? >> no, not at all, not at all. >> reporter: maybe a little? >> maybe when they were dinging each other out there but no. >> reporter: right before the dinner, jackson posed with the romneys and joked he was their chaperons. who is mitt romney? >> you know, i think the american people have finally getting to see him for the person he really is. you know, the portrait that was painted of him before now was just so inaccurate. it was always so frustrating. >> reporter: you get frustrated? >> so frustrated. >> reporter: jackson sees romney in the most unguarded moments at a staff flag football game on the beach, watching the patriots play the new york jets, often on the trail romney and jackson the last week to see each other at midnight and first to say good
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morning at 5:00 a.m. >> usually in the morning a bowl of cereal together. honey nut cheerios, chex. cocoa puffs. >> reporter: cocoa cheerios, co. he eats all the sugary kids cereals. i'm embarrassed at 25 to eat them. this is where the gov spends all his time. >> by the food. >> by the food. the guy is constantly eating. >> peanuts are a staple. >> peanut m and ms. the peanut butter and honey sandwiches. >> can't be creamy. >> we checked the fridge, where we find the boss's favorite. cherry coke zero. >> it's kind of a mess. >> and a few surprises. there's beer for his traveling
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press secretary. >> a miller lite for rick gorka. >> you guys -- after this stop in florida, romney works the rope line. something jackson says the gop nominee insists on doing with each visit. >> we're really touching some people that come up to him sometimes, just in tears. you know, telling him the story. it gets him emotional, too. >> people come up to him crying. >> yeah. >> is there one person you remember that stuck in your head, i remember this person. >> there are a few. one in south carolina, where a lady was in tears and he just embraced her for a solid minute as she cried on his shoulder and i don't know all that was said and he didn't want to share it. he said this was a personal moment for her. >> while there are obvious boundaries between a candidate and his body man, the the two
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remain close. >> what is it? >> you know, i -- i've described in the past it's like a -- you know, uncle and adoring nephew type relationship and i've been so fortunate. >> uncle mitt. >> exactly. >> hours before the final debate, garrett jackson picked up a few more photos. there are pictures of himself and romney sitting at a round table during the gop's debate walk through. it appears he has one of the bes seats in the house, sitting where the president will be. wolf? >> he really does love those, peanut butter, honey jelly sandwiches. when i was on the bus with him, he had a glass of milk, peanut butter and jelly. >> like cribs. >> like honey nuts, good morning, what do you eat? >> i have a shake, actually. i want to know how you get that job. >> 25 years old. i know some of the assistants
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for other presidents. they've all gone on to do huge, huge things. and ta good graduate school. >> couple more catch phrases, that seem to go viral. jeanne moos is keeping track. questions? anyone have occasional constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating? yeah. one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these digestive issues with three strains of good bacteria. approved! [ female announcer ] live the regular life. phillips'.
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this presidential has produced a bunch of buzz words and slogans that have quickly gone viral. jeanne moos has been keeping track. >> just in case you've missed the campaign so far, let us
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catch you up with catch phrases 2012. >> i like being able to fire people. >> the private sector's doing fine. >> i love big bird. >> sure, they may make you want to scream. >> corporations! >> big time -- >> most of them were delivered off the cuff then took on a life of their own. ♪ corporations are people's my motto ♪ >> no, governor romney, corporations are not people. people have hearts. >> they are quips that just won't quit. for instance, when president obama accused mitt romney of playing robin hood in reverse. >> if i were to coin a term -- >> obamaloney? >> i think it's called romnesia. >> very cute, mr. president, but what are you going to do for the future? >> the term suggesting governor
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romney has forgotten his -- the obama campaign may have caught it from twitter. politico reports the term was first tweeted months ago, but most catch phrases just come tumbling out. >> brought us binders full of women. >> he started talking about b d binders. >> the opposition is brandishing a visual aid. take when a senior romney adviser talk ed about moving th primaries from the the general election. that had steven colbert reaching for the near etch e sketch. right after the comment, sales of these things spiked about 1,000%. catch phrases get etched on
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t-shirts, get turned into viral videos. ♪ >> didn't build that. >> even an empty chair? and become a catch phrase. in this case, aimed at president obama when he blew the the first debate. the good news is that a year or so after the first election, we're all going to have obama romnesia, a condition which erases all 2012 catch phrases. >> and mom, you did build that! >> man, you've definitely got romnesia. i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. >> this the time to unleash our one liners? that answer was about as clear as boston harbor. now -- >> we're in the grip of a failed economic theory and this decision better be about what kind of economic theory you want. >> i got to answer this. tell tony blair we're

The Situation Room
CNN October 22, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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